Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP

Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP
© Fox News

House GOP leaders have put a compromise immigration bill on ice after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE said Friday he “certainly” would not sign the legislation.

Trump’s comments have thrown into doubt whether House Republicans will even take up the thorny issue of immigration this crucial election year. Immigration votes had been planned for next week.

Republican leaders at the last-minute scrapped a planned Friday whip check on the compromise bill. Instead, they will try to gauge support for the bill next week after they get clarification about what exactly Trump meant in his Friday interview on Fox News, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryNew push to open banks to marijuana industry On The Money: Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule | Negotiators running out of time to avert shutdown | Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

McHenry cautioned that House Republicans won’t “take on” immigration unless they have Trump's backing.

“We want to get clarity on the president’s position on this bill,” McHenry said just off the House floor. “Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump.”

Even if leadership pushes ahead with the vote, one key lawmaker questioned whether Thursday is still a realistic timetable.

“In light of everything, I think it's fair to ask the question: Is next Thursday premature on these two votes?” said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerPartnerships paving the way to sustain and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities Lawmaker seeks to ban ex-members from lobbying until sexual harassment settlements repaid Florida governor suspends Palm Beach County elections supervisor MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).

Trump later tweeted a list of priorities that are already included in the compromise immigration bill.

Trump’s impromptu remarks threw a wrench into GOP leadership’s immigration plans.

Republican leaders, who were desperate to stave off a discharge petition from centrists that would force a free-wheeling immigration debate on the House floor, reached an agreement to hold two votes next week on a pair of immigration bills, including the compromise measure and a more hard-line bill from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier in the week said that Trump was “excited” about the compromise bill, while White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had met with conservatives on Capitol Hill to rally support for the immigration framework.

But several top House conservatives declared the 293-page compromise bill “dead on arrival” following Trump’s comments Friday.

Trump’s remarks were a “relief,” said Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Steve King spins GOP punishment into political weapon Steve King asks for Congressional Record correction over white supremacist quote MORE (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner who predicted that votes on both immigration bills would fail next week.

Asked if Republicans could pass an immigration bill without Trump’s support, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanFive takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump Jordan says Oversight should be more focused on McCabe, Rosenstein ahead of Cohen testimony White House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration MORE (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tersely replied: “No.”

The compromise immigration bill is “on life support,” added Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtDems accused of MeToo hypocrisy in Virginia Granger to serve as ranking member of House Appropriations Committee Earmarks look to be making a comeback MORE (R-Ala.), an RSC member who opposes that legislation.

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGOP lawmakers urge State Dept. to label cartels as terrorist organizations House Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen MORE (R-Texas) said they were expecting the White House to put out a statement “any minute” clarifying Trump’s comments.

Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Fla.), who is facing a tough reelection bid in a district that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Trump pushes to speed up 5G rollout | Judge hits Roger Stone with full gag order | Google ends forced arbitration | Advertisers leave YouTube after report on pedophile ring 4 ways Hillary looms over the 2020 race Hillary Clinton met with Biden, Klobuchar to talk 2020: report MORE won by nearly 20 points in 2016, added, “This is going to be a cliffhanger.”

The compromise measure sticks to the four main pillars demanded by Trump: It creates a new merit-based visa program for so-called Dreamers, provides $25 billion for border security, ends the diversity visa lottery program and limits family-based migration.

The legislation goes even further by including a trigger mechanism to halt the new visas if Congress denies funding for the border wall, ending the separation of immigrant children and parents at the border, and ending “catch and release” immigration loopholes.

Centrist Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartVenezuela puts spotlight on Rubio The Hill's Morning Report — Trump complicates border wall negotiations Immigration divide widens with latest GOP proposal MORE (R-Fla.), one of the key negotiators, said the compromise bill is the last, best chance for any immigration and border security proposal to become law this year.

“It's the only shot at [the wall] and it's the only shot, I believe ... to legalize the Dreamers, stop the deportation of the Dreamers, and to have a permanent fix for them," said Diaz-Balart.

This isn't the first time that Trump has scuttled GOP leadership's plans by announcing last-minute opposition to a bill. 

Hours before the House was scheduled to vote on controversial legislation renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program in January, Trump tweeted that the program was used to "badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."

Capitol Hill was instantly thrown into confusion ahead of what was already expected to be a tight vote before Trump walked back his comments in a separate tweet.

Rafael Bernal and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.

Updated at 1:19 p.m.